1. Who needs pre-game?
Hockey players are notorious creatures of habit. Their pre-game routines are typically planned out down to the minute. Schedules leading up to puck drop are meticulously planned down to the second.
Because of a travel snafu (read more about it here), the Wild arrived at the arena exactly three minutes before the start of originally scheduled warmups.
The clubs pushed that back about a half hour. Even then, the traffic issue changed guys' routines a bunch. Just how much was affected?
"Everything," said Wild forward Nico Sturm. "We have an hour and a half until we start our dry-land warmup at 6 o'clock. Tape your sticks, physio, guys do different stuff. And today we got here, I did like a five minute warmup in place, taped my stick real quick, and hopped out there. That was about it."
Goaltenders in particular can be particularly robotic when it comes to routines.
Video: Cam Talbot postgame at New Jersey
"Usually get a bike ride in. Didn't do that," said Wild goaltender Cam Talbot. " Little bit of a warmup. Just activation all that kind of stuff, there was no time for really any of that. It was pretty much get dressed, tape your stick and get the pads on. I obviously get a little work done with [Wild massage therapist and assistant athletic trainer] Travis [Green] most of the time too and wasn't even able to get a little warm up with him either. It was pretty much just go out there and get ready to play the game. That was pretty much it."
Talbot isn't your normal goaltender when it comes to that kind of stuff. The guy has earned the nickname "Calm" Talbot for a reason, right?
"One-hundred percent. He doesn't care. We talk to him, like, say we go to a practice rink, 'Cam. Do you want to push back practice so that you can stretch.' He goes, 'Nope. I'm doing whatever the team is going to do,'" said Wild coach Dean Evason. "He just goes about his business. He played phenomenally tonight."
Video: Dean Evason postgame at New Jersey
Indeed, Talbot might have been the ideal guy to have behind the club on a night where nothing about the entire day was normal. The Wild didn't have a morning skate, got to the arena nearly 90 minutes late and was playing at the tail end of a five-day, three-game trip that started against two of the top clubs in the league.
It would have been easy to pack it in, get home and focus on the upcoming five-game homestand.
Instead, the Wild had one of its better first periods of the year, then rode Talbot to the finish line. It took a little extra time and a shootout, but Talbot was more than up to the task, making 40 saves through 65 minutes, then three more in the shootout to earn Minnesota an extra, well-earned point.
"I just tried to come in here and not over think anything, just go out there and control what I can control. That's all you can do in a game like that, a situation like this," Talbot said. "That was my mindset coming into it and I feel like I was able to execute that tonight."
2. Get shorty
Talbot was especially good in the first period, turning away all 18 New Jersey shots in the first period and allowing the Wild an opportunity to build an early 2-0 lead.
Video: MIN@NJD: Hartman gets Wild on board
After Ryan Hartman scored his team-leading 10th goal on a deflection in front just past the midway point of the period, the Wild doubled its lead in the final minute when Freddy Gaudreau and Sturm came down the ice 2-on-1 with Minnesota killing a penalty. Gaudreau led the charge down the left-wing side, sliding a perfect pass to Sturm for a one-timer that eluded Mackenzie Blackwood for Sturm's fourth goal of the season.
Video: MIN@NJD: Sturm hammers home SHG
For the Wild, it was the club's first shorthanded goal of the campaign as it became the league's 21st team to score while down a man.
"Actually it took me awhile to realize," Sturm said. "I think Kuli rimmed it out there and then we had [P.K.] Subban down in the corner trapped for a little while. I didn't realize for a second that there was no D left on that blue line and then [Gaudreau] made a great sauce pass. Actually don't know how it went in."
Regardless of how, the goal provided the Wild a 2-0 lead after one period - an advantage it would carry into the third period.
Video: Nico Sturm postgame at New Jersey
3. Stonewalling the skids
Evason coached his 87th game with the Wild on Wednesday night, and the win made sure to keep one impressive streak intact.
In those 87 games, the Wild has not lost three consecutive at any point.
Following losses to Florida and Tampa Bay to start the trip, the latter coming in a shootout, that streak was in jeopardy had New Jersey rallied to earn the victory.
Video: Marcus Foligno postgame at New Jersey
Kevin Fiala's goal in the second round of the shootout and Talbot's three saves in the skills competition made sure that streak would continue onward undeterred.
"There's a lot of good characters in this group. I feel like the coaching staff doesn't have to do too much from like a motivational and emotional standpoint. They can keep it on the hockey side of things when they come to the locker room at intermission," Sturm said. "All the other stuff as far as how we manage our emotions and how we bounce back and how we want to come out I think that's all the leadership group. It's been just easy for the coaching staff and leadership group to get to each player."
Video: Ryan Hartman postgame at New Jersey
Evason credited the group with being able to quickly turn the page after tough outings, not letting losses or bad games linger long.
"We don't care what happened, right? We don't care that we lost last game. We don't care that we won last game. Doesn't matter to us. We just go forward," he said. "I think that's the mentality of our organization right from the top with Billy. It filters down to all of us."
- Talbot improved to 9-2-2 in his career when making at least 40 saves
- Gaudreau has three points in his past four games and eight on the year, two shy of his career high of 10 last season in Pittsburgh
- Sturm's shorthanded goal was the first of his career
- Pavel Zacha and Yegor Sharangovich had third-period goals for New Jersey
- Nico Hischier had a pair of assists
- Blackwood finished with 25 saves
Dan's three stars
1. Cam Talbot
2. Nico Sturm
3. Jonas Brodin
Video: Wild get past Devils in shootout for win